Life of a First Generation College Student



All my life, my parents have been huge advocates of doing well in grade-school and going to college to get my degree. While my mom has two associates and has therefore gotten plenty of college experience, she nor my dad have obtained bachelor’s degrees. While my dad is successful and has been able to provide for everyone in my family, he has always told us that life would have been just a little bit easier with a bachelor’s degree. It would have meant he didn’t need to worry about his next job and that job security would have been a blessing in his life. 



The time came when my older sister, the first born, had to go off to college. My dad encouraged us all to get a degree that would have the job security he never did. So engineering, mostly because the world always needs engineers, or a doctor, or a dentist. My sister went into engineering and she never felt like it was her field and what she was really meant to do. She’s figuring out what she wants to do but it has been a long and winding path since then. 


I was obviously encouraged to do the same. Become an engineer or go into literally any profession that would help me gain enough money to not have to worry about the next job or the next bill even. My first semester of college I was a physiology major because I wanted to be a dentist. Then came the second semester and I had quickly and seriously decided that physiology and this dream of becoming a dentist was not for me. 



I changed my major to history, an area of study that I had always enjoyed in high school but never got enough of. I did some research on what you could do with a history degree and there is a surprising amount. Of course the obvious question I get is, ‘Do you want to teach?’. I have thought about it but I knew that that was not my dream job. I could have worked in a museum or as an archivist, but I knew as soon as I saw a public librarian as an option that would be my dream job. I have fond memories of going to the library once a week and coming out with a pile of books. The smell, the people, and the atmosphere are all ones I associate with happiness. 



I knew my dad would be accepting of this. Although I had chosen a “useless” degree, I still had  a plan for what I was going to do with it and how to be successful. Sure, public librarians do not make the most money in the world like a doctor or an engineer but I knew I would be perfectly content with the life I could make for myself in this career path. 


I know my dad only wanted the best for us and only wanted us to be successful at life. He never finished college and although everything worked out, he didn’t wish upon us the stress that he felt as a provider and a father. My intention is not to bad mouth my dad because I know he just wanted the best for us but I wish he had given us more freedom to choose and explore our options for our life-long careers. I know he wants his children to be successful but he raised kids who would be successful no matter what and no matter the journey they took to get there.




I wish things had been different but if they were I would not be writing this right now and I would not have this knowledge that I am privileged to have parents who care immensely about my well-being. I think my sister would have been happier if she had been something else besides an engineer and I am defiant enough where the opinion of my parents as an adult is something second to how I want to live my life. Without these experiences I would not be who I am. I encourage everyone to really think about what they want, how they can provide for themselves, and how to achieve it. I still have not achieved the goal I want and I may never get there if another opportunity arises but I am working on it every day. 



All three of my parents’ children are currently attending college and all of us still have big decisions to make about our future. But we are here through the encouragement and support of our parents and I would not have it any other way. We grow by the ways in which we are pushed and I was pushed because I am a first generation college student. 


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